Will Gamification take over the internet?

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By 2015 it is estimated that more than 70 percent of the global 2000 organisations (the top 2000 companies of the world) will have gamification incorporated into their business or applications.

So what is gamification?

Gamification involves integrating ‘game mechanics’ into a website or service. Typically this includes challenges, levels, points and leader boards and keeps the user engaged using rewards and competition. By playing on our physiological human behaviours, gamification can greatly increase the engagement and consumer interaction with a product. Visually measuring progress, rewarding effort, clear feedback and uncertainty are all features used heavily in games which when used in websites or services can greatly increase the consumer participation. Gamification is very different to the games themselves; it’s adding features of games to an already existing service.

Where is it?

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Gamification is used in many popular applications. One well known example is Foursquare. By using location services, integration with social networks, leader boards and badges it allows users to compete against each other by checking into locations.This competitive edge combined with social networking creates an addictive application which has over 10 million users.

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Gamification is being used in more unique ways - a simplistic version of gamification is used in LinkedIn’s “percentage complete” progress bar on profiles, encouraging users to add to their information and learn to use more features of the site. LinkedIn relies on users adding information to their profiles to make it a useful service, and having a visual measurement of how strong the profile is encourages users to keep their profile up to date and at a high standard.

Dropbox’s cloud storage service also uses gamification by offering users a reward of extra upload space if they complete a task – such as referring friends or taking a tour. The rewards are also equivalent of the effort put in by the user. Connecting your account to social networking sites is a simple task and takes little time, earning you 125MB of space, but larger rewards are gained for more complex tasks such as referring friends, with 500MB per friend.

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The crowd sourcing site Kickstarter uses gamification through a visual progress bar approach combined with a community effort to raise money for projects. A progress bar and statistics show how close each project is from being funded. When gamification is used like this it can be incredibly successful to engage users and even raise money.

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When to use gamification?

Gamification is there to engage the user with the product, not to be the product. Gamification enhances your initial content or product making it more interesting and enjoyable to use, as seen in the examples above. We will begin to see more and more of gamification being used in websites as companies catch on to the benefits it can bring. The best way to use gamification is to start small, such as LinkedIn’s “percentage complete” feature and see if this benefits the product. Other features include

    • Rewarding effort and user input
    • Uncertainty and probability of rewards
    • Positive feedback
    • Measuring progress
    • Social recognition (competition against others)

In Summary

Gamification when used correctly can really increase user interaction and satisfaction, but it’s very important to remember not to forget the true purpose of the website or service.

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